San Antonio Dec. 9 2012 Part I

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Show Reviews
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This is part 1 of a multi-part review.

There are several shows in San Antonio and this one was part of the Premier Gun Shows rotation.  The event takes place at the Expo Hall at the Freeman, which is behind the AT&T Freeman Center.  There are two large buildings in front of the Expo Hall and the gun show is behind them.  Fortunately, the location is relatively close to I-35 and the Freeman is easy to find.  Just follow the signs as you approach Freeman Center and you will be directed to the parking area (after collecting a $5 fee for which there is no refund).  The Expo Hall is to your left.  The parking area is very generous and I attended this show on a Sunday, so attendance was a big question on my mind especially with rain in the forecast.

We arrived at 9:15 to see a couple dozen cars in the lot and most people were sitting in their vehicles.  I talked with one person who was walking a dog who also happened to be a regular attendee.  He advertised it as a very good show with pretty much something for everyone.  Well, in about 40 minutes, I would know for sure 🙂

I took the picture below at 9:20 AM.  No line.

sa-1

At 9:30, cars began pouring into the lot.  This caused a lot of people to exit  their vehicles and move into line.  This picture shows the line at 9:40 AM.  By 10AM, the line was almost three times as long.

sa-2

As always, I respect the promoter’s desire not to take or show pictures of the interior of the show.

This show covered two rooms and very much reminded me of the Ft. Worth show when it overflowed into a second room.  I did receive two surprises on entry, one good and one not so good.  I was instructed that I could not bring my coffee inside, which was surprising since I bring coffee into the other Premier shows with no issue.  On top of not getting my parking refunded, this was two strikes against the show before I even made it into the door.  One strike was forgiven since a show representative came out fifteen minutes early and broke the single line into two lines, with one devoted to people checking firearms.  My carry remained locked in the car safe, so I can not comment on the checking process.

Maybe the promoters learned something from Lewisville the week before because the A/C was on and I mean really on.  The blast of cool air took away some of the heat from having to dump a perfectly good cup of coffee.  Well, that must mean that the show has a great concession area, right?

Wrong!  The restrooms were easy to spot, but the single concession area was hidden away in the second room with NO signage at all.  This screwup was bad enough, but they had to pour on the incompetency with NO menu.   After two hours on the floor, I purchased an adequate turkey sandwich and diet coke for $8.50.  Anyway, back to the show …

I went from pretty steamed to pretty excited when I examined the expanse of vendors in the main room.  I noticed many of the regulars at the Premier shows along with several banners I had not seen before.  I turned to the left, headed down an aisle, and it was less than 30 seconds before my wife scored a great bargain.  She recently upgraded from a .22 to a .380 and loading the single-stack .380 mag is a quite different for her.  Sometimes I think the M&P 22 was not a good starting pistol for her because the lightweight trigger, slide, and thumb guide to help load mags made her extremely spoiled.  The guy at the MagLoader table let her load .380 rounds into a single-stack mag (I do wonder about this practice, though) with the device.  She was hooked and $5 later, she walked away a happy camper.

A few tables down, I decided to try a cap light as another alternative to the Larry Light I use for cleaning.  Look for a review some time in the future.   On the subject of reviews, I received two videos for review at the show – “How To Fight In Low Light” by Austin Davis and “Making Glocks Rock” by the American Gunsmithing Institute, featuring T.R. Graham.

I noticed several dogs at the show, so San Antonio gets bonus points for being dog friendly.  I also noticed numerous families with small children, so it’s great to see the family focus at such a show.  I was also pleased at the number of signs devoted to children not handling weapons of any kind during the show.

It would take a dozen posts to comment on every vendor and many were regulars at the Premier shows, so the following is a summary of some that stood out and the remainder of my show time.

I had a good discussion with one of the representatives of Texas Professional Firearms Training.  All their instructors are current or former law-enforcement officers, which provides a different perspective from many CHL classes.  If it works out in the future, I may try to drive down on a Friday and take their tactical shooting course before a Saturday show.

Able Defense had an impressive multi-table layout, but too much traffic for me to have a chance to speak with anyone.  Their tagline is ‘skills for the real world.’  Well, maybe next time.

While my wife checked out the antique Bibles at Bullets and Bibles, I had a good talk with two reps of the Nardis Gun Range.  The pictures of the facility were very impressive.  They were giving away coupons for a 50% discount on a range visit, good for a week.  If I had not brought my wife with me on the trip (ha ha, always blame her) I would have gone to the range after the show.  Unfortunately, we were on a pretty strict time budget.  I will visit the range on my next trip to this show.

If you can shoot outdoors and setup your own targets, you would have liked the selection at Duke’s steel targets as well as the vendors selling the exploding targets that are popular on TV.

The folks at INET had an interesting display of security and surveillance products.

My wife stopped and sampled some cheese at one of the tables selling Thrive products.  We have several cans in our stocks and it’s pretty good stuff.  If you’re into prepping, there were a lot of vendors at this show.

Jolle Enterprises had a wide variety of supplementation products, including ‘Cell Food.’  DNA/RNA regeneration.  Sounds like something from Star Trek.  The one that caught my eye was the seasonal allergy relief (I have a problem with Ragweed).  I didn’t see the product on display, so I had to settle for a single-page handout and will visit their web site at a later time.

I don’t normally spend much time looking at knives, but the collection of edged weapons on display at this show was impressive.  I  particularly liked the collection of handmade knives on display by Jonathan Snow.

The guys at Texas Shooters Supply had a very tricked out collection of Saigas and AK’s on display.  Very cool stuff.

I did some shopping at this show and one of the products I picked up was a very hefty door guard from the folks at Stun Gun and Safety Products.  I set it up as soon as we got home and so far I’m very pleased with the product.  Perhaps pics and a review will show up some time in the future.  I also purchased some .44 ammo for myself and a bag of .380 for my wife from GoodToGo Ammo.  My final purchase was an off-gray Shemagh scarf.  Just in time for the cold front that hit Dallas later that afternoon!

One of the more interesting conversations I had at the show was with a rep from Texas Border Volunteers.  He went through the entire process of what they do and how to join.  I’m probably going to pursue this early next year.

The Gun Safes display included several of the Micro-Vaults, although I did not see prices marked on the units.  The rep was unavailable when I walked by.

I liked the tagline for Gun Smith Tactical, ‘Don’t Be Paranoid, Be Prepared’.  They had an interesting selection of AR’s and some tactical shotguns to make good on the words.

The folks at Zoom had an interesting layout of hunting, camping, and outdoor supplies.  I wanted to spend some more time there, but my wife drug me away to look at a collection of medieval weapons on display from Unique Stuff.  They also had a variety of non-lethal self-defense items and even tactical vests for sale.  One the subject of collections, both my wife and I enjoyed the various tables devoted to WWII and related collections.  The German war relics on display by Michael Morris were particularly impressive.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish off my vendor notes and in part 3, I’ll cover a list of interesting stops just off the highway should you be interested in making the drive from north Texas to San Antonio to visit this show in the future.

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  1. […] the second installment in a three-part review of the Dec. 9 Premier Gun Show in San Antonio, TX.  In part I, I reviewed the location and completed about half of the vendor reviews.  In this part, I’ll […]

  2. […] on the Premier Gun Show in San Antonio, Dec. 12, 2012.  I reviewed the location and show itself in part I and part II.  In this post, I’ll point out a few side-stops just off the highway that might […]